UK. Wessex Water prosecuted and fined 23,663 for polluting Wiltshire stream

Wednesday, 29 November 2006

Wessex Water has been ordered to pay £23,663 in fines and costs after sewage effluent escaped from one of its pumping stations and polluted a tributary of the River Avon. The case was brought by the Environment Agency.

On April 13, 2006 a gardener in the grounds of a large house in Bradford-on-Avon noticed sewage flowing through an open section of culvert running across the lawn. He alerted the Environment Agency.

An Agency officer noticed a strong smell of sewage and saw sewage fungus in the culvert – a sign the pollution had been going on for some time. A water sample was taken away for analysis and showed ‘significant contamination.’

On inspecting Springfield sewage pumping station, the officer saw that one of two pumps had been dismantled and was in pieces of the floor.  Wessex Water admitted that it had failed to step up its frequency of inspections even though the dismantled pump had been out of action for five weeks.

Magistrates heard that the pumping station was permitted to discharge sewage – but only in an emergency when effluent is released into a culverted watercourse that flows through the grounds of The Hall, Holt Road, Bradford-on-Avon before discharging into a pond and then the River Avon.

Wessex Water had also failed to install telemetry at the Springfield site by March 31, 2005 in contravention of a condition of its water quality permit for the site. Examination of the pumping station logbook revealed that the last inspection had been carried out some five weeks earlier.

‘These offences could easily have been prevented. While the River Avon escaped the worst of the pollution, an ornamental pond within the grounds of a private house was adversely affected. Water companies must ensure they carry out regular inspections of sewage pumping stations, especially when it is known equipment has broken or is awaiting repair as was the case at this site,’ said Guy Pluckwell for the Environment Agency.

Wessex Water, of Claverton Down, Bath, was today fined £22,000 and ordered to pay £1,663 costs by Chippenham magistrates after pleading guilty to two offences under Sections 85(3) and (6) of the Water Resources Act 1991 including causing sewage effluent from Springfield sewage pumping station, Bradford-on-Avon to enter controlled waters and failing to install a telemetry alarm system in breach of the company’s discharge consent

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 29 November 2006 )